The forecasters say the temperature went down to minus 20 in the next door county last night and I can feel the cold air through the windows as it starts to drop again. The trees are covered in snow and it is perilously icy everywhere. Stopping pipes freezing is the main challenge - the washing machine is out of action for the third time since the weather turned cold in November and won't work again until the thaw sets in. This is how it looks. Time to hibernate, and there's very little to distract me from sitting down in front of the woodburning stove and watching Atonement again, which gets its first national tv showing tonight. It will be nice to be reminded of a summer's day, though the thought of swimming may be a bit of a turnoff. We put up a Christmas tree in the hall on Friday and it glows brightly (the lights don't show up in the photograph). This year it really is helping to lighten the bleakness of the winter solstice and the landscape actually looks like a Christmas card. Wishing you a happy Christmas

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